Archive for November, 2011

© Dina AvilaThere’s this snack mix that you can get at Whole Foods that Adam loves. It’s spicy, a little sweet, expensive and chock-a-block full of crazy indigestible “natural” fillers.  We don’t buy it often, but when we do, I always think about trying to recreate it in our kitchen and I finally got around to doing something about it…with partial success.

Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day has a great section on snacks and I thought I’d have a go at her Roasted Chickpeas recipe. Now, this recipe is fairly simple, but the key, and I stress this, is to make sure your chickpeas are dry. Not a little damp, but dry. Otherwise, you’ll have soft-ish, not very interesting chickpeas like I do sitting in a bowl on the kitchen table. I’m determined to save them, either by giving them a bit of a pan fry or popping them back in the oven, but for now they sit like sad little golden orbs.

Alas! Not all was lost! Using her recipe as a guide, I spiced and roasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds to a perfectly crisp success and they are happily sitting in a jar on the kitchen table in arms reach.

© Dina Avila

Although I made these for everyday snacks, it occurred to me with the holiday season upon us these would be perfect for those of you who need ideas for holiday entertaining.

Remember: Dry Chickpeas.


Roasted & Spiced Chickpeas, Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

This recipe is super versatile. Use whatever herbs and spices you have on hand.

© Dina Avila

What you’ll need~

3 cups cooked chickpeas, dried

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of sugar

Grated zest of one lemon

2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or fresh herbs of your choice

Preheat your oven to 425.

Pour your chickpeas onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for about 10 minutes. Stir the chickpeas and roast for another 10 minutes until they start to crisp.

While the chickpeas are roasting whisk all of the other ingredients in

© Dina Avilaa large bowl.

Spoon or dump the chickpeas in to the bowl and stir until well coated.

Return the chickpeas back to the baking sheet and roast for another 5 minutes.

For the walnuts:

2 cups walnuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2-teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1-2 teaspoons smoked sea salt, to finish

Follow the above roasting and seasoning instructions.

For the pumpkin seeds:

1-2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons all seasons salt, or other salt mix you have on hand

Follow the above roasting and seasoning instructions above.


© Dina Avila


Read Full Post »

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! Adam and I took one of our long walks yesterday and, itching to play with my new lens, I thought I’d share one from the day.

© Dina Avila

Read Full Post »

Apparently, turning 40 means that I am occasionally (!) absent-minded. I made this sometime last week and didn’t write down a single step. Thinking I’d remember it, the days passed by and with them the details. I can tell you that carnival squash is just this side of boring in flavor…or we picked up a bad batch. It just didn’t wow us with the natural sweetness you get from other squash. I’d like to try this again with acorn or butternut squash, or even make this recipe again…which would be perfect as a Thanksgiving side dish.

I still have one of these guys sitting in a bowl on the kitchen table and I would love to hear if any of you have had success with carnival squash.

© Dina Avila

So, here ya go. A recipe…without a recipe…perhaps it will inspire you to throw a bunch of stuff into a squash and hope for the best :)

Carnival Squash stuffed with wild rice, chantarelle and shitake mushrooms, pomegranate seeds that I had left over from making my birthday cake, fresh thyme….and some other stuff.  Oye.


© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila

Read Full Post »

It was a blustery autumnal night. The rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was blowing bright orange and red leaves like chaotic confetti all over the city. Wrapped in scarves and winter coats we stumble into Cocotte dripping with rain…and anticipation.

We have the whole place to ourselves. Twenty-three Portlanders hungry for some of the best food our fair city offers. Candles are lit. French music playing softly, the bartender working on cocktails, and Kat and Zoe in the kitchen bringing food together in what appears to be French inflected alchemy, but really, they are just bad ass cooks.

This was Wednesday night.

Cocotte (pronounced Co-cot…or co-coat…depending on your mood) means many things. Among the list Kat shared with us, my favorites are “feisty hen” and “lady of the night”. After Wednesday night, I may add one more definition to the list. Amazing. Delightful. Ambrosial. Ok that’s three, but I just can’t help myself.

Cocotte was my fifth Portland Food Adventures and like the four before her, I was surprised and captivated by the night. Levi, part owner, and our bartender extraordinaire for the night started us off with an aperitif called Mere – Doubonnet Rouge, Gin, Lemon. If we weren’t relaxed before that drink, we certainly were after.

For those of you not familiar with Portland Food Adventures, let me tell you a little about it. PFA is the brainchild of Chris Angeles and the idea is simple (and brilliant!). Take a peak at the PFA website and see what dinners are coming up, by the way, breakfast at Broder on New Years Day and dinner Aviary on 1/17 are on the agenda-not to be missed! You sign up, give Chris a bit of money (gratuity included), arrive the night of the dinner, be prepared to have your mind and palate blown, and walk away with a more than contented belly and a stack of gift certificates to some of the chef de la nuit favorite eateries (Yakuza, DOC, Grain & Gristle were among those on Wednesday) in Portland. Not a bad deal, eh?

Seven courses. That is what Kat and Zoe and their wonderful sous chef, Katherine, created for us on Tuesday night. Paired perfectly with French and Northwest wines and book ended with an aperitif and digestif. And let me tell you, these ladies went all out for us.

I don’t think these pictures do their dishes justice….so I think you should just visit Kat and Zoe at Cocotte and experience it for yourself :)


PS Thank you, Chris for inviting Adam! We can’t think of a nicer and more generous engagement gift!

Amuse Bouche~ Salmon Quenelle w/ Mornay, Preserved Lemons, Capers, Pistou & Baguette Croute. Too be eaten in one swift bite!

The beautiful Zoe Hacket and Amuse Guele~Yam Winter Squash Puree Soup w/ Chevre & Roasted Mushrooms. I have not stopped thinking about this soup. So much so, that I have to beg for the recipe...

Adam enjoying a delicious '09 Bourgogne and Charcuterie~ Chicken Liver Mousse, Duck Rillettes en Croute & Duck Gelee w/ Radicchio Marmalade, Apple Mourtarde, Pickled Breakfast Radish & Shallots, House-Made Brioche

Entree ~ Clafoutis w/ Caramelized Onion, Gruyere, Arugala Salad & Radishes

The Lady Kat

Plat Principal~ Poulet en Cocotte w/ Farro Risotto, Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Breakfast Radishes, Savoy Cabbage, Soft Poached Egg, & Demi-Glace. So. Delicious.

The adorable couple who sat across from us celebrating their first year together.

Fromage~ Bucheron w/ Blueberry Chutney, Ossau-Iraty w/ Apple Quince Puree, Bleu d'Auvergne w/ Onion Currant Jam, Shortbread

Dessert~ Warm Brown Sugar Gateau w/ Salthe Calvados Caramel Sauce, Caramelized Apple & White Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream

Read Full Post »

Photograph of the Day

At the coast yesterday…

© Dina Avila

Read Full Post »

As promised, I decided to bake the epic kazillion layer crazy cake for my birthday today. Otherwise known as Baumkuchentorte  – Cookie Tree Cake…or something along those lines.

The birthday festivities are about to begin, so I leave you with pictures…a recipe will be added later. I will tell you this, however: Eight eggs and one pound of butter make one seriously delicious cake….


Update 11/14: Phew what a busy weekend! I apologize for waiting so long to post the recipe!

This cake is simply amazing. Although time-consuming, you’ll be hanging next to the broiler for a half hour, it’s not a difficult cake to make. And man, is it worth it.


We have Amanda Hesser to thank for this one. I spied it in her NY Times Essential Cookbook and it sounded so insane that I just had to try it. Apparently, the traditional versions of this cake are upwards of a foot tall. You’ll need a springform pan for this recipe. I only changed a couple of things. Amanda’s recipe calls for rum, which I didn’t have on hand. I used Marsala instead and it worked fine. Also, the pomegranates seeds were my idea.

What you’ll need~

1 pound unsalted butter, softened

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups cornstarch

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour

8 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons marsala

Powdered sugar for dusting

Handful of pomegranate seeds, optional


Set the oven rack to six inches below the broiler and heat the oven to broil.

Line the base of your spring for pan with a round of parchment paper.

Butter the parchment paper.

Using your hand mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Slowly add the cornstarch, flour, salt and egg yolks.

Add the Marsala.

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold them into the batter.

Drop about a two tablespoon dollop of batter in the springform and use the back of a spoon to spread it around in to a wafer thin layer.

Broil for about a minute, until it turns a light golden. Do not over cook. Slightly undercooked and moist is your goal.

Spread another wafer thin layer on top of the first and broil for another minute.

Continue doing this until all the batter has been used. About 25-35 layers.

Keep in mind the cook time will slowly decrease as the cake gets taller and closer to the broiler element. I found the final several layers took about 50 seconds to cook.

Remove cake from oven and let cool.

Once cooled, remove the springform and dust your epic cake with powdered sugar and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.


© Dina Avila Photography

© Dina Avila Photography

© Dina Avila Photography

© Dina Avila Photography

Read Full Post »

Photograph of the Day

So…it’s my birthday. Yep, right now.

I’m about to wander in to the kitchen and make a cake that I think will warrant the title: Epic….and a blog post will definitely follow, but, in the meantime, I thought I’d give you something to look at.

I think this says it all…

© Dina Avila

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: